While their persistence, intelligence and extra-curricular involvement set them apart in high school, Destrehan High School Class of 2022 graduates Kailie Carrigee and Bodhaansh Ravipati are now set apart by another accomplishment – they are each National Merit Scholarship winners.
Carrigee was named the 2022 DHS valedictorian. In the fall she will head to Louisiana Tech University to major in biomedical engineering and perform as part of the college’s dance team – The Louisiana Tech Regal Blues.
“I will always be grateful for the opportunities that the National Merit Scholarship Program has offered me,” she said. “It is through my dedicated and supportive teachers, parents, family, and friends that I was able to earn this recognition. I spent every day of quarantine in 2020 studying and preparing for the PSAT. I knew how important it was for my future, and I was determined to achieve a score that would put me in the running for a National Merit Scholarship.”
Carrigee’s years at DHS were filled with dancing, as well as a bevy of other activities, awards and accomplishments. She danced for four years on the Desty Darlings Dance Team, serving as the captain during her senior year and the co-captain her junior year. During her senior year the team won the national championship in the small national gameday category – a first in the school’s history.
Carrigee was a four-year member of the Interact Club and Fellowship of Christian Students, and served a year as vice-president of each. She was also the media officer of the Fellowship of Christian Students. During her first and only year on the National Honor Society, Carrigee served as the club’s vice-president.
Carrigee also participated as a Norco Elementary School Student Mentor and as a member of the National English Honor Society, Southeast Louisiana Youth Council, Wildcat Mentors team, Student Council, Mu Alpha Theta, Beta Club, Superintendent’s Student Advisory Council and Newsletter Club. She served as various leadership positions in many of the clubs.
She was the Senior Class President, Junior Class President, Sophomore Class President and Freshman Senator, as well as a part of the school district’s Gifted and Talented Program.
Carrigee, an advanced Studies Student, has also been a competitive dancer for Kelli’s Kreative Dance for the past decade.
Volunteerism has been a huge part of Carrigee’s life. She has completed service hours as an assistant teacher at Kelli’s Kreative Dance and at the Matthew 25:35 Food Pantry, Senior Citizen Christmas Dinner, Alligator Festival, Little Red Church Festival, Luling Living Center, New Sarpy Elementary School, Toys for Tots, various sporting events at Destrehan High School, New Generations Forum, Inclusive Prom at Ormond Plantation, Children’s Hospital of New Orleans, parent teacher conferences and back to school nights, Thanksgiving basket drives, Archbishop Rummel Summer Day Camp and Louisiana Youth Seminar.
Additionally, each year Carrigee turns her own birthday celebration into a way to raise money for charity. She has collected donations for Children’s Hospital, Coreluv, Wounded Warriors, St. Charles Parish Head Start, Matthew 25:35 Food Pantry, R.K. Smith Middle School, What You Give Will Grow and Second Harvest Food Bank through her birthday drives.
Ravipati is also an aspiring biomedical engineer. In the fall he will head to Duke University.
“I wanted to be a National Merit winner since I was a freshman,” he said. “It all started with studying, and I received a lot of help and guidance from teachers at DHS. It takes eight months to find out if you were a semi-finalist. It was nerve wracking for everyone in the process. It was a nice surprise when I found out I had won … it made me really happy.”
Ravipati said he is thrilled to attend Duke, which was his number one pick for college.
“I’m very excited,” he said. “I think it’s going to be a really interesting experience. The work going on there is far beyond anything I ever thought I would be able to experience.”
Ravipati – who speaks three languages – was involved in many activities in and out of DHS. He was a junior developer at Harvard Innovation Labs, a manufacturing and research intern at Innogenomics Technologies, team captain of the award-winning Wildcat Robotics team, cofounder and chief technical officer with the Jefferson Parish Youth Council and a competitive programmer with Major League Hacking.
He also has served as a research intern and trainee with LSU Health Sciences Center and on the Superintendent’s Advisory Council.
Ravipati has racked up a number of awards, including but not limited those from NotUniversity Hacks Programming Competition, Arkansas Regional Robotics Competitions across many years, FIRST Robotics World Championship, Greater New Orleans Science Fair and Red Stick Rumble Robotics Competition. He was also awarded a Harvard Innovation Labs Grant.
High school juniors entered the 2022 National Merit Scholarship Program when they took the 2020 Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test, which served as an initial screen of program entrants. Last fall, more than 16,000 Semifinalists were named on a state-representational basis in numbers proportional to each state’s percentage of the national total of graduating high school seniors. Semifinalists were the highest-scoring program entrants in each state and represented less than one percent of the nation’s seniors.
To compete for Merit Scholarship awards, semifinalists first had to advance to the finalist level of the competition by fulfilling additional requirements. Each semifinalist was asked to submit a detailed scholarship application, which included writing an essay and providing information about extracurricular activities, awards, and leadership positions. Semifinalists also had to have an outstanding academic record, be endorsed and recommended by a high school official, and earn SAT or ACT scores that confirmed the qualifying test performance. From the semifinalist group, over 15,000 met requirements for finalist standing, and about half of the finalists will be Merit Scholarship winners in 2022.